Kicking Up A Storm

Unassumingly, Michael Aresco made his way into the record books and leaves a remarkable impression on the MHS football program.

By Paul Augeri. Photos by Mirror correspondent Edison Byrd.

Michael Aresco says what he’s accomplished in his four years as Middletown High’s varsity kicker is no big deal. His coach, his teammates and his family know better.

His success is undeniable — two Connecticut high school records, a share of a third, and four school records. That’s awfully good for an athlete who decided at the last minute as a freshman to fill coach Sal Morello’s need for a kicker. So long, soccer career.

Aresco is aware of others’ appreciation of his ability, and while his contributions to the undefeated Blue Dragons are widely known, he’d meet that with a shrug.

“I’ve always been a shy kid, so that’s been one of my biggest challenges to get past, getting past those nerves of going out there and doing my job,” Aresco said during a recent interview. “That was probably the toughest part for me, getting comfortable when I first started to kick for the team.”

Aresco and the Blue Dragons are 9-0 and beginning the last phase of preparation for next Wednesday’s annual showdown against Windsor (9-0). This was no off-week for them after beating Platt last Friday. For four-year players like Aresco, they’ve never beat Windsor. Morello is 1-6 against the Warriors since he became Middletown’s coach.

“Down time? There is no down time,” Morello says. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of film to watch.”

The week did allow for some reflection on Aresco’s success. His 43-yard kick in the second half against Platt set the state record for most field goals in a career – and it would have been good from as least another five yards or more.

Celebration? Not a hint of self-acknowledgment. No look-at-what-I-did moment, not even a fist pump. Aresco picked up the tee and that was it — for him. His teammates moved in of course, for hugs, pats on the helmet and some handshakes.

Next thing you knew, Aresco was focused on preparing for the kickoff.

“Coach tells me all the time he can see that I’ve grown up in the past four years,” Aresco says. “I’m totally different from freshman year to senior year. It’s kind of cool to hear that.”

maresco

Morello considers Aresco “a weapon” that not many teams have – a player whose field-goal range easily lies in the 40s, can reach 50 or more, and regularly turns out unreturnable kickoffs.

Skimming through the Connecticut high school football record book shines a light on Aresco’s exploits.

 

  • Most Field Goals, Career
    Michael Aresco, 22, 2014-17
    Austin Stefano, Wethersfield, 21, 2014-16
    Also: Michael Morello, Middletown, 11, 1987-90
  • Most Field Goals, Single Game
    Roberto Inesta, St. Mary-Greenwich, 4, 1970
    Michael Aresco, 4, 2016
  • Longest Field Goal
    Rico Brogna, Watertown, 54, 1987
    Tyler Timion, Fermi, 54, 1987
    Matt Paola, Pomperaug, 54, 2011
    Rico Brogna, Watertown, 52, 1987
    Charles Gallagher, Hartford Public, 52, 2006
    Michael Aresco, 52, 2016
  • Most Points Kicking, Single Game
    Michael Aresco, 16 (4-for-4 FGs, 4-for-4 PATS), 2016

 

Brogna gave Middletown football fans a glimpse at his talent in 1986. A prolific three-sport athlete who went on to play Major League Baseball for nine seasons, Brogna, a quarterback who had a fantastic left arm and left leg, kicked a 48-yard field goal at Miller-Fillback Field. Middletown won that game.

Through opportunity and accuracy, Aresco has doubled Brogna’s career field-goal output, 22-11. Aresco has missed only four attempts in four years. He’s heard the name “Brogna” in conversation. Maybe one day Brogna will know the name “Aresco.”

Michael’s favorite moments? He has two — the 52-yarder last season at Farmington, part of a four field-goal game that also produced the single-game record for most points by a kicker; and his very first field goal attempt, a 31-yarder to cap the first drive of the first game of his first season.

Other thoughts as he and the Blue Dragons get ready for Windsor and, later, the 2017 playoffs:

On taking the field for that very first field goal attempt: “I feel like I wasn’t even thinking. I just went out there. I remember not even acknowledging that I was going out there, because I was so nervous inside.”

On dealing with nerves as a freshman kicker: “Just from playing on that team, I think we were ranked third in the state at the time, I feel like that was the most nerve-wracking part, (not) messing up on that team. But eventually as the season went along, getting my confidence up, I kind of lost the nerves a little bit.”

On his working relationship with his holders: “The first three years I had Trevor Getek, then Stone Belzo this year. The holder position, with Trevor and Stone, they have been phenomenal. How fast they put the ball down, the laces just right.”

On the synchronicity of blocking, snap, hold and kick: “It has to be perfect every time. If the snap’s off, the timing is all messed up.”

On practicing over time: “After my junior season I’ve really practiced every single day in the spring and summer to get ready for those college camps, to get ready for my senior season. That’s really when I started to practice religiously.”

On when he realized he could be a college kicker: “Probably after my junior year, that’s when I really felt I could actually go to college and kick.”

On his biggest on-field challenge: “Probably working from the hashes. You’re not always in the center of the field. I’ve had to work at kicking from the hashes and angling where I’m supposed to put the tee, and getting used to that.”

On what he’s thinking about before an attempt: “I try not to think of anything, just take a deep breath and have a clear mind. And then just kick it. Baseball, soccer, the sports does no matter. Don’t think of anything. Just do it.”

On contributing beyond kicking and punting: “There’s definitely been some times when I’ve had to make some athletic plays. The snap has gone over me sometimes, had to run back and then get the punt off. I’ve made a tackle only a couple of times, really. I remember junior year, I didn’t even have to make the tackle, something in me just decided to run that way and do it.”

On his booming kickoffs into the end zone: “(Teams) realize they have to go 80 yards if they’re going to score on us.”

On his accomplishments: “I think football in general, looking back on it when you get older, all the moments you have will stick with you and your teammates.”

On what it would mean to the team to beat Windsor: “I haven’t beaten Windsor all four years. Beating them would be huge. But we wouldn’t stop there.”

It Was Mike Aresco’s Night

Middletown High senior kicks way into state record book for career field goals

A really good kicker can elevate a high school football team from good to great, and that’s what Mike Aresco does for the Middletown Blue Dragons.

Aresco, a senior, hit a 43-yarder with ease late in the third quarter of Friday night’s 51-20 win over Platt. It was his 22nd career field goal, which set the Connecticut high school record. All along, fans of the program knew this night would come and underscores their belief that he’s the best kicker Middletown’s ever had and that his right leg is just getting warmed up for the next level.

Only Windsor stands between Middletown and a 10-0 regular season. The Blue Dragons and Warriors square off the night before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, in Windsor.

Quick thoughts:

Can Middletown finally beat Windsor? Yes.

Windsor is undefeated as well. The Warriors have to beat Norwich Free Academy next weekend to create a 9-0 vs. 9-0 matchup.

Some believe at this point in time that the annual game determines whether Middletown has a good or a great season. The Blue Dragons haven’t beaten Windsor in Sal Morello’s time as coach.

But this could be the year you consider a fantastic kicking game and a very good defense supports the deep offense provided by Stone Belzo, Xzavier Reyes, DeAaron Lawrence, Tyreece Lumpkin and others.

Can Middletown win a state championship in Class L? Maybe.

It’s been a tough go in the playoffs for Middletown over the years. The Blue Dragons haven’t won a playoff game since 2013. The division in 2017 includes Windsor and undefeated teams Masuk and Fitch. One-loss teams New Canaan, Hand and Maloney are lurking.

This much is guaranteed: It will be fun watching how it all turns out.

 

The Book On Hillary’s Visit To City

Wesleyan R. J. Julia Sees Clinton’s Signing As First Of Many Big Events To Come For New Store

By Paul Augeri, Editor-In-Chief

The glow from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s imminent visit to Wesleyan R. J. Julia Bookstore to sign copies of her new book will likely last long after she leaves the city.

With a Secret Service detail in tow, Clinton will spend a few hours on Saturday inside the Middletown shop to sign “What Happened”, her much-discussed new book about the 2016 election. A couple of hundred tickets for the signing sold out in a matter of hours in August.

If Clinton were turning out at R. J. Julia’s flagship store in Madison, her appearance would be another big get for the brand. But her commitment to a Middletown/Wesleyan visit is a signature moment for the five-months-old store.

In time, it has the potential to be a future point of reference for the authors, politicians, journalists and others that Wesleyan R. J. Julia asks to follow Clinton.

“We are obviously excited and thrilled about having Hillary Clinton in to sign. We love getting all types of writers, from the debut author up through celebrities,” Lori Fazio, chief operating officer for R. J. Julia Booksellers, told the Mirror.

“This is the first real big event that we are bringing to R. J. Julia in Middletown. We get to introduce the sort of caliber of store we are. We get to introduce Wesleyan to the publishing world and we get to introduce Middletown” to ticket holders either visiting the store for the first time or unfamiliar with Main Street’s nostalgic appeal.

The planning for Clinton’s visit has been a production not just for the store itself.

“For an event like this, it definitely takes a village,” said Fazio, borrowing the first half of the title of Clinton’s book published in 1996 while she was First Lady. “We have been quite fortunate that her team is really wonderful to work with, her publishing team is really wonderful to work with, and that Wesleyan, Middletown and the Middletown Police Department have been wonderful to work with.”

“This is the first real big event that we are bringing to R. J. Julia in Middletown. We get to introduce the sort of caliber of store we are.” — Lori Fazio, COO for R. J. Julia Booksellers 

Fazio was quick to add that nearby businesses of the store at 413 Main “have made it easy to work with them” in preparation for Clinton’s visit and the security detail supporting her.

“The Secret Service has a certain standard that needs to be followed,” she said. “We appreciate everybody’s patience and understanding and the commitment to making this all happen. We know it’s not easy on everybody.”

whathappenedcover

The line for ticket holders, who are assigned a number, will form in front of the store long before the start of the 11 a.m. signing. The area will be heavily secured. Streets will remain open as will the rest of Main Street’s businesses, Fazio said.

Patrons who turn out just to shop in the store will be required to stand on line with others, Fazio said. “We’ll almost essentially be closed to non-ticket holders,” she said.

One of ticket holders is Maureen O’Doherty of Portland, who said she’s been practicing for weeks about what she will say to Clinton during their encounter. She expects it to be a “five-second window” of time with the former First Lady/Secretary of State/Democratic presidential nominee.

“I’ve settled on a variation of, ‘Madame Secretary, I’m also a graduate of an all women’s college [St. Joseph, now University of St. Joseph in West Hartford].  Thank you for your decades of devotion to the rights of women and girls.’ Then I burst into tears and blubber all over my signed copies of her autobiography and the children’s edition of It Takes a Village I’m getting for the neighbors.

“I’ve watched this woman fight my fight for 25 years when I felt I didn’t have the voice — like many women I know.  For her to come back after November 2016 is astonishing to me. I do know she’s not finished yet — and the girls of this world will be better for her good works.”

O’Doherty threw in a shout-out to the store. “Terrific coup for R. J. Julia.  It is a beautiful space and the staff is terrific.”

Expect Clinton to walk gingerly through the store’s doors on Saturday. She broke her toe running down a flight of stairs this month and recently has been photographed on the talk circuit in a walking boot. The revelation caused maybe a minute or two of angst for Fazio and bookstore staff.

“Her team told us right away, ‘She broke her toe this morning but we are proceeding to Middletown as we planned,’ ” Fazio said.

Something For Everyone

Renovation project ties Pat Kidney, Woodrow Wilson fields together to form recreational hot spot for city

By Paul Augeri, Editor-In-Chief

Officially, the ongoing work on the expanse of athletic fields between Farm Hill Road and Hunting Hill Avenue is being called a renovation. Maybe a “reimagining” is a more apt description for it.

However you put it, the Pat Kidney/Woodrow Wilson complex is shaping up as a modern recreational magnet that has been long sought for Middletown.

With construction now in its fifth month, the rash of dry summer weather has allowed for a steady transformation of every corner of the property. The change is made possible by voters’ approval in 2015 of a $33.5 million bond calling for the renovation of parks throughout the city over a period of 8 to 10 years.

On Thursday, Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare of Chicopee, Mass., rolled out sod at Ed Collins Field on Hunting Hill. The multi-use field will be used primarily by Wilson Middle School teams and youth football. The former Miller-Fillback site hosted decades’ worth of Woodrow Wilson High School and Middletown High School football games.

“Progress has been pretty good,” said Chris Holden, who has overseen the work as deputy director of the city’s Public Works division. “This is going to be a great park.

“Over the winter (Mountain View) may be able to do some of the other work. As long as it’s a fairly seasonable winter, they can work on things. We wanted to do the sodding before the end of the year to give it a chance to tie in to the ground over the winter.”

soddedfield

The city earmarked $10 million to the project, but Gene Nocera, who chairs the city’s 21st Century Parks Committee, said total expenditures will finish at about $7.7 million. Mountain View’s efficient and urgent approach to the work, which Nocera called “first rate,” has made this possible.

“Mountain View – I can’t say enough about them. They work on Saturdays. Time is money and they don’t want to sit around,” Nocera said. “The change orders have been minimal, which has been huge. We’ll be well under the amount allocated for the project.”

The project was designed by Milone & MacBroom of Cheshire (rendering above). It will keep the Pat Kidney Field name out of respect to its past, Nocera said, but the fields and courts themselves will carry the names of a diverse array of accomplished figures in the community after approval by the Common Council last month.

The latest on where construction stands:

• Baseball and softball — tentative completion in May. Each field will occupy its previous space, although the baseball field will be shifted slightly to the east to accommodate space for the exercise trail and a children’s play area. Fourteen towers with focus lighting surround the entire space (the old light stands for softball eventually will be removed). Focus lighting keeps the brightness of the light trained on the field. “Neighbors won’t have to see spillage outside the fields,” Nocera said. “It’s state of the art.”

There will be batting cages erected on the baseball side of the field. A gravel base has been prepared for what will be a fairly large, off-street parking area parallel to Farm Hill Road. According to the design, the baseball field’s outfield fence is removable to allow for the option of an overlay field to be utilized out of season.

The baseball field will be named for the late Jerome “Buzzy” Levin, a respected businessman who helped found Middletown’s Little League chapter, sponsored a team in the Greater Hartford Twilight League for years and was behind the creation of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the 1990s. The softball field will be named for Lucille Gecewicz, a three-sport star at Central Connecticut State in the 1970s and the first woman inducted in the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame.

Since construction began in June, tons and tons of topsoil have been moved to ready a vast irrigation system. After Mountainview peeled off the initial layers of soil, the ground was down to hard clay and silt, Holden said. Drainage systems were dropped in and new soil filled around them, and a water-quality swale has been dug along the third-base side of the softball diamond to help with run-off. On Farm Hill Road at Norfolk Street, the drainage system was tied into the city’s water/sewer system, he said.

• Multi-use stadium – complete. Four light towers were assembled and installed late this summer, as were a full set of bleachers and a press box. Both mirror the previous layout at Miller-Fillback Field. A concessions stand and bathroom facility, plus a patio, will be built in the same area where the previous one stood. Underground power has been installed. The field will continue to carry Ed Collins’ name. He coached football at Woodrow Wilson High and was part of the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame’s second class in 1995.

• Basketball courts – tentative completion in May. Three asphalt courts will be prepared in the spring at the corner of Farm Hill Road and Russell Street. No lights. The courts will be named for both Detroit Hunter and Cleveland “Cleve” Lowman. Hunter was a longtime city worker and Middletown’s recreation director, and championed the inclusion of minority children in city sports and recreation programs. Lowman started a community recreation center in the North End in the 1970s.

• Track and field – tentative completion in December. The track will be a rubberized surface. An area behind the bleachers will be developed for field events. The track will be named for Deb Petruzzello, who retired after 40 years of coaching the sport in town. She was selected as National Coach of the Year in 2016 and is still working as athletic director at Woodrow Wilson Junior High.

• Exercise trail – tentative completion in May. A loop for walking and jogging will encircle the entire property, with entry points at Russell Street, Farm Hill Road and Hunting Hill, and will be accessible according to guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The asphalt surface will be laid in the spring.

• Tennis courts – tentative completion in July. There will be six (without lights) in the area of the old football practice field off of Newtown Street. The base layer for the courts will be prepared before the end of this year and concrete will be poured in the spring. A small parking area will adorn the area. The courts will be named for Hal Kaplan, a tennis enthusiast who was a longtime teacher and principal. His name also adorns the road leading to Lawrence School.

• Planting: The city is studying species of trees for the complex, Holden said. Dozens will be planted in areas including the south end of the multi-use field, the east side of the tennis courts, into the hillside that separates the Pat Kidney complex from the Woodrow Wilson Apartments, and along Russell Street. Trees will go into the ground in the spring.

• Children’s mini play area – tentative completion in July. It will be donated through assistance from the Kiwanis Club.

Copies of the project’s design will be posted at the site soon.

 

An Appreciation Of Tom Petty

By Paul Augeri, Editor-In-Chief

At the shop in Cromwell where I get what’s left of my hair cut, Tom Petty’s passing was an immediate topic of conversation.

Kelly’s two kids live and work in the Denver area. In early December, concert dates for Tom and the Heartbreakers’ 40th anniversary tour were released. Her daughter, Abby, badly wanted to see the band perform in Colorado. If you have gone the general-public route for buying tickets online for a popular act, then you know the odds of getting good seats, or any seats at all, can be 50-50 at best.

Abby was incredibly disappointed, moreso when her dad dropped this line on her: He bought two seats for the show in May at the Xfinity Center in Hartford.

Then, on Christmas Day, while she was together with her parents celebrating the holiday, Abby’s dad urged her to check her inbox. She opened the email to find two tickets for one of the Heartbreakers’ two May dates at Red Rocks.

One for her, one for her brother.  Tears of rockin’ gratitude followed.

This is just a small story connecting a few people within the universe that Tom Petty created. He was a singular talent, a master songwriter, the coolest of performers and, for me, a Rushmore-esque American musical force.

The news of his death was crushing. I first saw him perform in 1991 in Kansas City on the Full Moon Fever tour. There were a few more shows in the decades to come – each awesome and easy to recall – with the final one coming in July at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens.

As I’ve come to expect at a Petty show, there were bolts of energy shooting from the stage and back to the stage from the crowd. Tom’s catalog is timeless. The songs always feel fresh. His live performances are true to the recordings, so to me, they are equally fantastic (I’m not ready to use past tense). Usually, in the days and sometimes weeks after seeing one of his concerts, I would fixate on particular songs, listening with a sharper ear as if I was hearing each for the first time.

I remember Petty limping up the stairs and onto the stage that night. He looked uncomfortable. Peter Wolf opened for Petty and the Heartbreakers on the latter half of the tour, and recently wrote in Rolling Stone that Petty’s hip was ailing and that he was in considerable pain. But once he pulled the guitar over his shoulder, spoke to fans and let the music fly, it seemed like pure pleasure for Tom – and certainly for us fans.

That Petty died less than a week after the tour’s completion really bothers me, especially knowing that he intended to pull back on working for the foreseeable future, partly because he was a doting grandfather who wanted to have time with his grandchild. He was only 66.

He spoke to the Los Angeles Times after the tour ended and just five days before his death and said, “On the back side of your 60s, most people aren’t working. This keeps us young. I think it keeps me young.

“When I see people I knew from earlier in life and I run into them now, they’re very different than me,” he added. “And they look different. I think this has kept us all thinking young and feeling young.”

Petty’s death came less than 24 hours after the mass killings in Las Vegas, and trying to digest this and then Petty’s loss was suffocating for me. Add to this the anger and unhappiness permeating the times and you’re almost left groping for a tunnel that leads to light. Music fosters happiness and spreads it among all walks of people. Music is a connector, an anti-divider.

The wonderful woman who cuts my hair attended the Patriots-Panthers game last Sunday. The friend who provided the transportation has season tickets, and I was told a Tom Petty playlist is the regular choice of music for the drive back to Connecticut. This was Sunday. Tom Petty died on Monday.

The strains of the verse “with them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights” that Tom powered through with thousands of voices in a supporting role is just one of my  favorite moments from his shows.

In another song, he sings about the great wide open and the skies of blue. Those are pretty good places to be and ones we can go back to whenever we choose.

One list of 10 favorite Tom Petty songs:

  • Crawling Back To You
  • Time To Move On
  • You Don’t Know How It Feels
  • I Won’t Back Down
  • Yer So Bad
  • Learning To Fly
  • Listen To Her Heart
  • The Waiting
  • So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
  • Don’t Come Around Here No More

Middletown Spreads The Wealth, And Farmington Pays

Offense, defense click all the way as unbeaten Blue Dragons roll to 41-0 win

By Paul Augeri, Editor-In-Chief

FARMINGTON — Middletown’s versatile offense moved the football however it chose to Saturday night. The running game was fierce. The passing game was dead-on. Ah, and the defense tucked away another shutout, too.

It was a most unpleasant 48 minutes for Farmington all the way around as Middletown’s ground game produced 207 yards and four touchdowns, quarterback Stone Belzo missed his receivers just twice, and the Blue Dragons’ defense scored as well in a 41-0 win over the Indians.

Middletown never let up its effort on either side of the ball. The outcome gave the Blue Dragons a 4-0 record as the season shifts to October and left coach Sal Morello to admit this: “We know we can play with anybody. It’s just a matter of going out and executing.”

“We have a ways to go, but I like the progression,” he said.

Xzavier Reyes and Tyreece Lumpkin rushed for two touchdowns apiece and Belzo had another terrific outing, finishing 7 of 9 passing for 112 yards, 36 of them with a touchdown toss to DeAaron Lawrence.

Middletown’s offensive line blasted holes in Farmington’s front throughout the game, and then Reyes punished them further with his bruising, drop-the-shoulder style of power running. He had 13 carries for 79 yards and stuck mostly to the middle of the field, where he ate up yards because they were there for the taking.

“Reyes ran hard. He’s doing his thing. Our ground game has been really good,” Morello said.

“I thought we were excellent up front. I watched film of Farmington coming in and they’re a scrappy bunch. They gave some good teams problems defensively, but we were able to handle any pressure they put on us, any blitzes. Our kids did a nice job executing the game plan. It was simple.”

Already holding a 7-0 lead Garrett Dandridge 48-yard interception return in the game’s opening minutes, the Dragons scored on their next three possessions to put the game away. Belzo found Lawrence on a post route for a 14-0 lead. On the next drive, Reyes and Nico Cavaliere split four touches to cover 55 yards, with Reyes going up the middle from five yards out to make it 21-0.

Middletown’s fourth score came out of a bam-bam-bam drive that lasted 10 plays and was marked by distribution of the ball. In no particular order, Reyes carried it four times; Belzo hit on all three pass attempts; he also ran it twice; and Dandridge had a carry. Reyes scored on a 1-yard rush.

“The thing I’m most happy about, and it has been a point of emphasis, is our passing game,” Morello said. “It’s not about throwing the ball 25 times for balance. We just want to be efficient. I think we’re just mixing it up and taking what the defensive is giving us.”

The thing about the Dragons’ 10-play drive is they pieced it together without utilizing Lumpkin, a dangerous option in his own right. The junior can turn a corner with his speed, and he’s shifty and sturdy enough to gain extra yards that don’t seem to be there at first.

Lumpkin scored on a 1-yard run on Middletown’s first possession of the second half. When Farmington fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, the Dragons started on the Indians’ 21-yard line and Lumpkin did the rest — runs of 5, 10 and 6 yards to cap the Dragons’ production.

“Tyreece is a forgotten guy,” Morello said. “He’s built low to the ground, he’s got great speed and he’s very elusive. It’s hard to get a clean hit on him. He never goes down on the first hit. He keeps his legs under him.”

Bristol Central (2-2) visits Skubel-Rosek Stadium next Friday. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.

“The CCC is well-balanced. Just look at the scores,” Morello said. “There are no freebies the rest of the way.”

Xavier Scores At Will as Senior QB Throws For 5 TDs, 361 Yards In Rout

Falcons beat East Haven 56-3, return to .500 ahead of upcoming game at Fairfield Prep

By Matt Bjorklund, Mirror Correspondent

Xavier dominated East Haven in every aspect of Friday’s non-conference game at Palmer Field, as standout senior quarterback Will Levis accounted for six of the Falcons’ seven touchdowns in their 56-3 rout of East Haven.

Levis, a Penn State commit, had one of his best performances this season, passing for 361 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

“I would say that definitely stat-wise, my best game of the year,” Levis said, “but [now we] put it behind us now and focus on [Fairfield] Prep and focus on doing just as well next week.”

With primary running back Tyrone Abrahams Jr. sidelined with a foot injury, the Falcons leaned mostly on the passing game and were incredibly successful with it. The victory also gave Xavier (2-2) a lift following last week’s loss at Wilbur Cross.

After scouting East Haven last weekend, Xavier coach Andy Guyon said he saw things in the Yellow Jackets’ defense that Xavier and Levis could exploit.

“It was what they were giving us” that allowed Levis to be as efficient as he was. “We felt the way they were playing coverage-wise, we had a lot of things in the pass game that we could take advantage of,” Guyon said.

Xavier scored on all five of its first-half possessions in building a 35-3 halftime lead. Levis completed 19 of 22 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns.

On the third play of the Falcons’ first possession, Levis found fellow captain Kyle MacGillis, who clutched the ball and took off, leaving the Yellow Jackets’ defense behind for a 72-yard touchdown. This play was indicative of the game plan Guyon had in mind as the game wore on.

Levis also threw touchdown passes to Adrian Hyatt (12 yards), another to MacGillis (28 yards) and one to Alex Kulasenski (1 yard) before scoring on a 15-yard keeper to account for the Falcons’ first-half scoring. MacGillis finished the game with 131 receiving yards.

The Falcons wasted no time at the start of third quarter — 1:47, in fact — in expanding their lead to 42-3. With the Falcons being 1 yard from the end zone, Levis tossed it to Michael Femc, who was waiting for the pass. Per CIAC rules, the margin of Xavier’s lead triggered running time for the remainder of the game.

A short while later in the third , Falcons running back Nick Hassleman scored on a 19-yard touchdown run. Xavier’s final touchdown of the night was set up by an interception by James Rusiecki and capped off with a 4 yard touchdown run by Ryan Miner.

The Falcons’ defense was stout, with pressure on East Haven quarterback Tanner Divito throughout the night.

“Now that we’re back again to .500, how are we going to show up this week at practice?” Guyon asked himself. “Prep is a pretty big rival, so I would hope we’re going to be practicing well and the kids are going to be doing the things they’re supposed to do (to be successful).”

Abrahams is expected to play next Friday against Prep (3-1) at Rafferty Stadium on the campus of Fairfield University. Game time is 6 p.m.